EPT10 Vienna: Excuse me, are you the Crown Prince of Bavaria?
So it turns out we have an heir to the Bavarian throne in the field. The question: "Excuse me, are you a member of the Bavarian Royal Family?" is not one we've ever had to ask before, but it was put to good use today, identifying among the field His Royal Highness Karl Ruprecht Prinz von Bavaria.
Suspicions had been raised by the unusual name on the player list. It's not uncommon for players to be named after places - take Jordan Hamilton for example, or Ben Warrington, and Mario van Opzeeland, but none come close to Karl Ruprecht Prinz von Bavaria, who right now is in seat two on table seven.
There were further suspicions that this was a man of nobility by the incognito nature of his attire. Seated as he was with more than 32,000 chips at the start of the day, he wore a woollen hoodie with hood up and a scarf around the lower half of his face. His eyes were covered by a pair of mirrored sunglasses. But perhaps it was his nose. It was a regal nose.
Karl Ruprecht is not the first prince to try to blend in with the people on a trip to Vienna. The heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales, who would later become the infamous King Edward VIII in 1936, travelled around this very city in 1935, cutting his trip short (according to the Associated Press) because he was fed up with being followed everywhere.
The scene in 1935
But the reality now is somewhat different, specifically because the Bavarian Royal Family came to end in 1918 (much like the Hapsburg dynasty in Austria), with the deposition of Ludwig III of Bavaria.
Karl Ruprecht's family can be traced back (using 28 Wikipedia tabs at least) to the year 10-something, and Heinrich I, Count in the Pegnitz. But the modern day royal family exists in name only, and the elaborate disguise at the poker table is just Karl Ruprecht's concern about giving away tells to his opponents. This is his first live event after all.
"I'm just really surprised I survived the first day," he said, laughing. "I guess I got pretty lucky. What helped was I was wearing sunglasses and a hoody so nobody could see my face. I'm really afraid people are going to read me. I just don't have a poker face! I can't lie; I'm really bad at lying so I have to wear the sunglasses."
Aren't you Karl Ruprecht Prinz von Bayern?
So the disguise was nothing to do with the more elaborate theory that the prince was incognito, and was instead just the ordinary excuse of a player enduring their first live event. But Karl Ruprecht seems to like ordinary, which is how he sees himself four generations since the last King of Bavaria had some say in the affairs of state.
"It's not a big deal in Germany," he said in reference to the title he still has. "That's pretty much everything there is to it. It was a long time ago since the last ruling king. In England it's obviously a big deal, but in Germany the only difference is the title. I don't really feel difference in the lifestyle from anybody."
Just to get an idea of who those ancestors are you can start with his great-great grandfather, Ludwig III of Bavaria, the last King of Bavaria. From there you can trace his family history back through the enlightenment, the renaissance, the middle ages, back to the time of the crusades. It wouldn't be beyond imagination that some of them may even have come to this very palace, albeit for different reasons. Now, nearly a thousand years after the first recorded Wikipedia entry, Karl Rupricht Prince of Bavaria, has chips on Day 2.
"It's just history," said Karl Ruprecht. "I don't really feel their impact of being royal any more. It's also not anything like an achievement. So I'm proud of my ancestors, what they did for their country, but it's not one of my achievements, I don't take any credit."
What he can take credit for is a, so far, impressive performance in his first live tournament. Some of the praise for that belongs to his friend Johannes Strassmann, himself a professional player, who helped teach Karl Ruprecht the game and is part of a circle of friends who play for fun - sometimes in a castle in the middle of Bavaria.
Strassmann, on whom the history of such things is not lost, was full of admiration for his protégé on his way to checking up on him; among those responsible for his playing in Vienna, along with Dan Cates, who it seems is partial to a trip to Karl Ruprecht's castle in the middle of nowhere to play cards.
But as for this week, the EPT is more a whim than anything that was planned.
"I went to visit some friends here and a couple of them wanted to take a little bit of a vacation and do something fun," said Karl Ruprecht. "We had never done this before so we thought it might be cool to come here to this famous building. I play with friends a lot, at home sometimes, just for fun. So we thought; why not give it a shot?
That shot is certainly still working. "I feel a little bit intimidated because there are a lot of professional players here," he said. "I just don't know how long the luck can keep me in the tournament!
He may laugh about things and credit luck a bit too much, but a couple of levels after talking to him he was up to 125,000 chips, his hood was down, and the scarf was put away, a more confident player for sure.
What odds the new King of EPT Vienna?
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.